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Building Information Models as a facilitator for energy neutral and zero-carbon buildings

Building Information Models as a facilitator for energy neutral and zero-carbon buildings

The Building Physics Section and the Belgian Building Research Institute are looking for an enthusiastic and motivated PhD-student in the field of building information modeling (BIM) and building energy simulations in the framework of the Energy Performance in Buildings Directive (EU EPBD). You will become a PhD student in the Building Physics Section of the Department of Civil Engineering at KU Leuven. The Building Physics section currently consists of 4 faculty members and some 25 doctoral and postdoctoral researchers. The section's research targets heat and mass transfer in porous building materials, durability of (highly insulated) building components, and the energy use and indoor air quality in buildings and the built environment. The Division Digital Construction of the Belgian Building Research Institute will propose sufficient guidance and feedback for the PhD-student. The Digital Construction division focusses currently on development of BIM reference documents, tools and
connections with other digital technologies such as smart on-site applications, visualization tools such as viewers, AR and VR, quality check with scanning and drones, and a more global data environment. The BIM model is considered as the starting point for bidirectional interaction during both design as execution phase.

This PhD-project is a joint collaboration between the University of Leuven and the BBRI (Belgian Building Research Institute) and focuses on the many sources with valuable data that nowadays become available for the built environment such as Building Information Models.

In this research project it is explored how this data can maximally exploited to help facilitating the construction of better buildings. As this is a broad scope, it will be narrowed down to building more sustainable buildings with an emphasis on developing energy neutral, carbon neutral and energy flexible buildings. In this project the aim is to develop tools and to demonstrate how a BIM approach can be used to design and operate energy neutral buildings. It will be shown how BIM can help in the different stages of the design as well during the operation of the building. The opportunities that BIM offers will be used to develop an integrated toolchain.
* A first step looks into the use of BIM during design. It will explore how BIM can be used in the early design stages and can be coupled already to building simulation software to assist in the design and to EPB software to explore early conformity. Emphasis is on easy coupling of tools, automatic generation of BES models and filling out (giving suggestions for) blanks. Apart from energy related KPIs (E-level, S-level, kWhRE,...) also other KPIs (sustainability, overheating, cost, ...) can be explored.
* In a second step the simple BIM model is updated as the design progresses. The data become richer and the error margin for error reduces. At the end of the design a full BIM model is present allowing to automatically extract energy simulation models with different levels of complexity (going from quasi-steady state calculations up to full multizone energy simulations).
* In the next step the BIM model is employed for commissioning. When measurements become available the results can be compared against the expected results. With advanced identification tools (amongst others developed at KUL Building Physics Section) physical values (u-value,solar aperture, ...) can be extracted from the data and given as input to the model (or used to detect building failure and indicate where the building has to be improved (commissioning)). The result is a calibrated BIM model (or improved building that performs according to the specs).
* In the fourth step, this BIM model can be used to monitor the behavior of the building. With an FDD approach the real behavior is compared against the results from BIM. This allows to check the performance and detect and diagnose errors. Also in this area the PhD student can work further on already performed research at KUL and BBRI.
* In a fifth step it is analyzed how the BIM modelcan be used to optimize the operation of the building. In particular energy flexibility and adaptability of the energy demand to meet smart grid constraints become essential.

The research will be based on past and current research at the Building Physics Section and the Belgian Building Research Institute.

The PhD-project is focusing on energy neutral and zero-carbon buildings. A basic knowledge of building information modelling and building energy simulation modeling is essential. Independence and initiative, reliability in team work and good communication skills are similarly valuable. Finally, a suitable knowledge of spoken and written English and Dutch or French are required.

The position is open for applicants holding a Master of Science in Engineering (or equivalent): Architecture, Civil Engineering, Energy, Mechanical Engineering or Electrical Engineering with a strong interest and some experience in the field of energy in buildings. Knowledge and experience in the following fields will be relevant:
* The context of the European Energy in Buildings legislation (EPBD)
* Building Information Modeling
* Building energy simulation, especially MODELICA (to model buildings, equipment and control)
* Design and operation of Buildings
* Fault detection and diagnostics
* Object-oriented programming, software development tools

Please indicate clearly, what your experience and knowledge in the mentioned fields is and why you are interested and motivated to acquire expertise in the other fields.

This project can start immediately. In your motivation letter, you should clearly state when you could start. You can apply while currently being a MSc-student, but you have to have obtained your MSc degree before the date of appointment.

* The successful applicant will receive a full-time scholarship for four years to do research to obtain the PhD-degree in Civil Engineering
* You will collaborate with other exciting scientific projects on BIM and building energy simulation. The project will be carried out in the Building Physics Section at the KU Leuven and at the Belgian Building Research Institute
* You will receive training from the Arenberg Doctoral School at University of Leuven, one of the top European Universities, providing an excellent research environment. You will have access to state-of-the-art technologies, core facilities and technical support
* You will gain experience in many transferal skills and receive personalized mentoring
* You will also have the opportunity to participate in local and international conferences and thus expend your scientific network
* Funding is available but the successful candidate will be encouraged to also apply for additional fellowships
* The position is available immediately


KU Leuven - Universiteit

Building Information Models as a facilitator for energy neutral and zero-carbon buildings

KU Leuven, Leuven
Construction Manager, Construction Engineer, Industrial Engineer, Civil Engineer, Construction Engineer, Energy Engineer
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